Oct 21, 2014

On Comics

I've always had a hot and cold love affair with comics over the span of my life.
I was big into superheroes when I was quite young, dressing up like Batman, the Incredible Hulk, Spidey... Then in my early and mid-teens, most Saturdays would include me taking a train into Melbourne city to visit comic shops and spend waaaay too much money in them. I always took spare bags and boards to put the comics straight into after the comics were purchased and my collection reached into the thousands.
I still have fond memories of those trips into town. The annoying walk from home to Blackburn Station. The anticipation of what I would find while on the train, looking at the eastern suburbs of Melbourne as they flew by. The eagerness to be there already as the seemingly endless escalator at Parliament Station rose in front of me. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs at the old Bourke street Minotaur shop, securing my comics with a sigh of contentment.
Then I kinda lost interest in comics in general after my teens. I still picked up the odd book, and anything by Bart Sears was eagerly snapped up. But I just didn't have that same love of them that I once did. I never completely lost the love, but I think I just found other things (faerie and fantasy art) more appealing in my twenties and the first half of my thirties.

Today, not a huge amount has changed. I still like the idea of comics, and do pick the odd book up, but there's no use denying that my tastes have permanently changed. I'm no longer a comics reader.

But the strange thing is, my future artistic pursuits directly involve comics.
As I've mentioned a few times recently, I've been wanting to get back to that comic I created a few years ago, called The Circle. The more I've noodled with the story and the characters in my mind, the more I really like the project and what it represents. Because, to me, it encapsulates all of the things I love to draw and write about: fantasy, faerie and comics.
I recently heard a bit of advice attributed to the wonderful artist, Rebecca Guay, of whom I used to collect the Magic cards she illustrated back in the day. To paraphrase, she basically said that for an artist who may be encountering difficulty with conflicting influences and tastes (ie. me!), they should pick their three top favourite artists/disciplines/media/genres and just treat them as their desert island choices. By this I think she means that an artist that is having trouble deciding in which direction to go, may need to make an ultimatum and just stick to it.
Bloody good advice, that. And like all good advice, it is startlingly obvious once you know it.
I made my choice on my own artistic direction last year. Implementing it has been the sticky bit.

But I'm seriously working on it. Now that I've closed the doors on commissions for a little while, I've been able to get back to some of my personal projects. Numero uno is The Circle. Numbers 2 through infinity are also The Circle. There is The Circle. There is nothing else.

I had it all mapped out with how I want to get The Circle done. It all started with this year's 24-hour Comic Day. Regular visitors may recall that I made a children's book called Klogg the Troll back in the 2012 24-hour Comic Day. Well, this year, I came armed with serious intent to do a The Circle comic.
Of course, I failed miserably.

As I tend not to exactly follow the rules tied to these sorts of events, I came armed with an already written story, including page plot breakdowns (in text, not rough drawings) and a lot of the panel layouts already in my head.
I also had a fairly clear idea of how I wanted to draw the comic. I was thinking of a nice and simple style, kinda cartoony (but not really), with some rich blacks and limited detail.
Of course, it didn't take very long for those plans to going flying out the window and for me to end up with work like this-
 
I can barely stand to look at this stuff. It is sooo not what I intended and there's some terrible work in there.
So the 24-hour Comic Day was a total bust. I basically came out of it with nothing usable. You can hear me talk in more depth about all of this in the upcoming third episode of The Gord & Jay Talk Art Podcast.

The experience DID strengthen my resolve to do this story and to do it well, though. So it's going to be back to the drawing board with a healthy dose of development before I even attempt another page of it again. So stay tuned for lots of character studies and such in the near future. As a taster/teaser, here's the old rendition of the character Wildling, now in colour!!!!

And while we're on the topic of comics, I thought I might list my Top 5 all-time favourite comics, as it's been a while since I've done something like this... so here they are:

1. Brute's & Babes: Mael's Rage. Just an awesome comic in every way.
2. Slaine: The Horned God. Has it all, really.
3. WildC.A.T.S v X-Men: The Golden Age. Painfully good.
4. Amazing Spider-Man #347. A great self-contained single issue.
5. Dota 2: The Secret Shop. Gods, I love it!

Good Journey (still going)

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